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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

The Most Magical Place On Earth

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." ~ Walt Disney

It's not that Disney World is impossible, but when you live in California, have a bunch of babies (kids, animals, plants, etc..), work a lot and are in the midst of a pandemic, let's just say that traveling can sometimes feel impossible.

However, our most recent trip to Disney World was extra special because it was completely spontaneous. I literally had this thought one Friday afternoon that we should take a week off and take the kids out of school for the week and head to Disney World for 5 days of care-free fun. I'll explain why later, but it was one of my best ideas yet.

Below I'll share how I planned it, $$ saving tips, tips on traveling with children, and yummy food options.

Our first family trip to Disney World was in May of 2018 for my birthday. We were there for a week and visited 3 parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom). Our off days were spent playing in the pool at our resort. It rained a ton when we were there, but we were prepared. Honestly we loved the rain because for the brief moments it stopped raining it was so hot!

Our second family trip to Disney World was February 2021 and was just to escape the stress of pandemic world for a few days to have some fun away from home. We were there for 5 days and visited 3 parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios). The weather was absolutely perfect and the crowds were minimal due to covid restrictions.

Best idea yet!

1. Spontaneity: This is not something that comes easily to us when it comes to a trip across the country, so the fact that we pulled this off at the last minute taught us a lot about ourselves: that we are a lot more capable than we give ourselves credit for.

2. Fun: We all deserve some unbridled and care-free fun especially in this stressful, anxiety-filled pandemic world and what better place than a Disney resort??!?

3. Yummy: We're not foodies by any stretch, but we sure do love to eat good food and we ate a ton this trip. Below are some recommendations.


1. I've been to Disney World in February, May, and November, but by far the best time of year to go is February.

2. During the ongoing pandemic and while you need reservations, it is probably wise to make sure the parks you want are available the days you want to go. So first step for us was to buy tickets to the park.

3. Next was plane tickets for us. We used frequent flyer miles on American Airlines to fly for free!

4. Since our kids are still relatively young and we've done Disney enough times to know our limit is 3 days there unless we have a rest day in between. We did the rest days our first trip, but this most recent trip was a whirlwind kinda on purpose.

5. Hotel: I literally searched all the hotels in the Disney Springs area. It's a great area to be in, super easy to get around, fun to explore Disney Springs, and there are a lot of food, hotel and transportation options.

$$ Saving Tips:

1. Park tickets: At Disney World we always do one park per day rather than park hopper. It just takes too much time to park hop and one park per day saves $$.

2. Hotel: Our first trip we did a 2 hour timeshare presentation to get a week free at a nice resort. I can't recommend that, but it did work for us this particular trip. Our most recent trip we stayed at the Disney Springs Holiday Inn and had a great stay. Nice rooms, great location (walking distance to Disney Springs), free transportation to parks, great breakfast and great customer service. And best of all, it was like $30/night!!

3. Food: Have some food in the hotel and bring some into the park because it will save you time and $$. It's definitely a must eating some of the delicious food there, but the $$ can add up quick when feeding a family of 5.

4. Transportation: Take advantage of the free shuttles from hotels. Sometimes the timing doesn't work out, but it's worth saving $30 here and there that you'll pay for Uber rides.

5. Ok let's face it, it's Disney, it's going to be expensive no matter what!! But oh so worth it!

Tips on Traveling with Children:

1. ID and picture: Just in case they get lost. Having a picture of what they are wearing will help find them quicker. Our kids all have watches and/or phones now, but when we first started doing Disney they didn't. So we fitted them with wristbands with our phone numbers on them and it's a good thing we did because we managed to lose our middle child (oops!). Total freak accident, we just weren't paying attention in a crowd and she was gone so fast. Mike went to search for her and I scooped the other 2 kids up, threw them in the stroller and found the nearest employee who sent everyone immediately into action after I showed them a picture of what she looked like. It was maybe 5 minutes before we found her, but it was the longest 5 minutes of my life. She was with a good samaritan who was getting ready to call us. We were all fine after the incident, but so glad we had a plan in case anyone got lost. She's our most responsible child and the least we worry about doing something like this, so it was a huge sigh of relief to see her safe! But a reminder it can happen to anyone!

2. Stroller: So my youngest is 7 (6 last time we went to Disney), but we still always bring a stroller. It's great for naps for the younger 2, to store stuff (your backpack, food, extra blankets or clothes, etc), and you can leave it in any stroller parking and pick it up later. Of course don't leave valuables (still bring a bag or back pack for that) and sometimes they move strollers to keep the parking compact, but having a stroller has been so helpful for us.

3. Food: Bring plenty of snacks, granola bars, sandwiches, and water bottles. We put everything in a soft ice chest and then throw it on a hook hanging from the stroller.

4. Fanny packs with the following: A fanny pack for everyone was such a great idea! Each one of the kids had extra masks, hand sanitizer, sunglasses, chapstick, and their phones. It was perfect!

5. Other must brings: Signature books for all the characters you'll see, change of clothes, wet wipes, sun screen, band aids, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen or tylenol for achy legs at the end of the day, sunglasses, and if you're going during a rainy time of year pack umbrellas and ponchos and possibly blankets for evenings in the cool time of year.

Yummy Food Options:

1. Magic Kingdom: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow & Loaded Buffalo Chicken Tater Bites at Friar's Nook.

2. Animal Kingdom: Baked Mac & Cheese with pulled pork, onion rings, and cole slaw at Flame Tree BBQ.

3. Hollywood Studios: Carnitas Tacos at ABC Commissary & Prospector's Punch.

4. Disney Springs: Three Little Pigs at BB Wolf's Sausage Company.

5. Aaannndd of course a churro a day keeps the doctor away. I promise that's a thing!!

I can't express how much this trip came at the right time for us. We had the absolute best time ever!!!! So many great memories were made and we all can't wait to go back for more!!



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